Jan 31, 2018 by Comfort Keepers of the Low Country
Getting older is an open invitation for sleep issues. Not only do chronic conditions and pain cause discomfort and sometimes inability to sleep, but we also tend to sleep more lightly and not as long as we used to in our younger years.
For that reason, many seniors find themselves napping once or twice a day. This is fairly normal, as napping can help to compensate for lost or poor sleep during the night.
But when does napping become too much? What if you find your senior sleeping during the night and most of the day, as well? There are many reasons why your senior may be sleeping more, some reasons not alarming but others more so. Here are some possible causes of the additional sleep:
Fatigue and extra sleep are common signs of depression – but depression is not a natural part of aging.
Many seniors may feel lonely and isolated from their friends, family, and overall lifestyle they used to live, leading to them losing interest in life. If you noticed increased sleep, decreased mood and lack of interest in your senior, talk to them about it and make an appointment with their doctor.
If they are already being treated for depression, realize that finding the correct medication and dosage may take some time, so still go in to see their doctor.
Yes, this truly is a large contributor to increased daytime sleeping! No schedule to maintain, less opportunity to go out and do things or overall lack of socialization can lead to fatigue stemming from boredom.
To alleviate this unnecessary napping habit, help your senior find a new hobby or social activity they enjoy. Get them engaged with their neighbors or relatives who live nearby more often.
Given that dementia (which is a part of most neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and so forth) affects brain function, sleep is one of the most commonly affected components of the dementia patient’s life. The issues intensify in later stages of dementia.
It can get so bad that the patient’s sense of time is completely off, leading to their night and day being flip-flopped. Sometimes, sleeping a lot during the day is the only way they’ll get any quality sleep at all.
As a caregiver, this can be extremely frustrating. One way you can try to restore them to at least a somewhat normal schedule is to keep them engaged and occupied during the day, and keep the house calm, quiet, and dimly lit at night.
If this doesn’t help, talk to their doctor.
Most seniors take more than one medication each day. These medications can have side effects of their own, let alone some that can come from interacting together.
Two common side effects are drowsiness and fatigue. While this may be okay to some extent, it becomes worrisome if the symptoms persist for several hours after the medication has been taken. If you feel your senior’s medications are interfering with their quality of life, talk to their doctor. They may be taking too high of doses, or even medications that they don’t truly need to be taking.
Depending on you or your senior’s situation, too much sleep can be dangerous to their health. A consult with their physician can help to figure out what treatment either needs to be changed, added, or removed.
Additionally, too much sleep means there’s less time for other important components of one’s health, such as eating, taking their medications, and personal care. Too much sleep can lead to dehydration, malnutrition, and poor hygiene. Staying in one position so frequently can also pressure ulcers (also called bedsores). At this point, your loved one may require more professional help, such as skilled nursing or hospice.